Lot 64 (Evolution, 21st November 2017)
Sold for £72,000
Natural History: A very rare three dimensional Plesiosaur skeleton Lower Lias Formation^ Lyme Regis^ Dorset^ approx. 205 million years ago 300cm long During 1840 one of the first books ever written about prehistoric animals was published. Not only was the volume huge in size^ it was given the very dramatic title of The Book of the Great Sea Dragons^ and its subject was the fossil Plesiosaurs that had recently been found at Lyme Regis and in nearby places. The terrifying and awesome appearance of these iconic creatures from the Age of Dinosaurs justified the title^ and ever since the idea of Plesiosaurs has coloured the imaginations of many^ many people. Even today there are those who cannot quite bring themselves to believe that these remarkable creatures became extinct some 70 million years ago. Whenever an enigmatic sighting is made of an unidentifiable sea animal^ the idea of the legendary sea serpent is put forward^ quickly followed by a question: could the mysterious creature have been a surviving Plesiosaur? There are even those who suggest that the Loch Ness Monster (if it exists at all) is nothing more or less than a family of Plesiosaurs! Fossil remains of these creatures have been found in various parts of the world (and there are a number of different kinds)^ but the first to be discovered was found at Lyme Regis in the 1820s by the celebrated fossilist Mary Anning^ a lady who kick-started the whole concept of fossil collecting. The specimen she dug out from the cliffs astonished the scientific world and her contemporaries couldn~t decide exactly what manner of creature it was. One described it as resembling a snake that had been threaded through the body shape of a turtle. The species was eventually given the scientific name of Plesiosaurus dolichodeirus^ and it is an example of this species that is being offered at Summers Place. Although a number of specimens have been retrieved since the time of Mary Anning^ these represent very rare finds and very few have been obtained in anything like a complete state. Those that have been assembled in three-dimensional condition are even rarer and there are unlikely to be more than two or three in the world. This particular example comes from Broad Ledge^ a spot very close to the centre of Lyme Regis^ and was found some 30 years ago^ since when it has been in private hands.